Oct
22
2003

The kava plant.

Health concerns regarding animal feeds, including pet foods, are becoming the focus for government investigations and consumer alerts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to expand the current ban against animal brains and spinal tissue in cattle feed to include food for dogs, cats, pigs and poultry. The agency wants to prevent animal diseases from being passed onto other animals and consumers.

The government already bans animal feeds made with spinal and brain tissue from being fed to sheep, goats and cattle to prevent the spread of mad cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy [BSE]).

The FDA reported that “no evidence of BSE has ever been found in dogs, horses, and some other pets, such as birds, reptiles, and gerbils. However, a feline version of BSE has been documented in cats in Europe, most of them in the United Kingdom.”

The FDA expects to come up with a plan to prevent high-risk materials like spinal tissue from ending up in feed. The agency aims for implementation by slaughterhouses and animal feed producers by 2007.

Another ingredient in some pet foods — kava — is raising concerns.

Kava in pet food is marketed as relieving separation anxiety, stress, destructive chewing and hyperactivity, primarily in dogs, but also in cats. These touted benefits can be very attractive to pet owners. Because of links to liver toxicity, however, the plant has been banned for human consumption in some European countries and Canada. Now, the Association of American Feed Control Officials is urging its members to start cracking down on animal feed products containing kava by December.

For the complete AAFCO statements on kava, see its website under “Current News.”

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